Africa--February 2015
Journal VII
Saturday, January 31, 2015
9:45 A.M.; Kisii, Kenya
We were to have left an hour ago for Tanzania.
Pastor Daniel called. He had to go to the home of one of his church
members early this morning. The elderly father had gone missing over three
months ago. He was found in Nairobi (4 1/2 hour drive away) wandering the
streets, no memory, disheveled, long growing fingernails, and very confused.
the church (and especially Pastor Daniel) had been praying he would be found
alive. God had answered prayer and the pastor was summoned for a thank
you and a time of thanksgiving prayers.
What a great reason for a travel delay!
11:50 A.M.; Kenya/Tanzania border @ Sirari, Isibania
Seldom is a border crossing in a developing country easy.
Borders are the fly-strips that collect the dregs of humanity. Money-changers, con-men, hustlers of
all kinds, pick pockets and prostitutes. You are in “protect mode” the entire time you processing the
border crossing.
Bribes are the norm at borders. I hate paying bribes! Especially, when everything you are doing is
legal and your are already paying a ridiculous amount of money just to enter a country so you can
spend all your American money in their economy that is failing. But....I digress.
So, instead filling every outstretched hand at every document window, Pastor Daniel has built a
relationship with a “border conflict consultant” (I think I just made that title up. This guy knows
everybody, everybody knows this guy. He takes care of everybody and, get the picture.
A process that has taken me as long as 3 1/2 hours is finished in 40 minutes!
Pastor Patroba appears on the Tanzania side of the border to welcome us and off we go.
As soon as we leave Kenya and enter Tanzania there is a marked difference in the roads...for the good!!
We have to stop at a auto supply store to purchase a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and some road
flares. If you are stopped in Tanzania without these, the penalty is stiff. I like this country already!
1:20 P.M.; Goldland Hotel, Tarime, Mara --Tanzania
I have learned in Africa that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Africans are masters are the facade.
The outside is beautiful, and then you try to open a door or get the hot water to work. Well....this
place is beautiful on the outside, but I have stayed here before. Electricity, water (especially hot) and
other conveniences are random at best.
After settling in our rooms, we all meet for lunch in a beautiful palm grove. Fresh Talipia filets from
nearby Lake Victoria, sweet rice and pineapples and a cup of nice mixed tea. Ahhhhh.
We spend the next two hours talking ministry (past and present).
Patroba is a unique man. Primarily gifted as an evangelist, this man is planting churches , making
disciples and caring for children at our feeding station.
Tomorrow I will preach in his church for the first time on a Sunday. He thinks it is a big deal. After
worship we will enjoy a local African lunch and then spend the rest of the day with pastors who are
traveling to Pataroba’s remote church for a one day training conference. I thought it was just the local
pastors !om the region that were coming. I find out at lunch that some pastors have already been
traveling for over a day to get here. They are coming from all over Tanzania; , Mwanza, Zanzibar City,
Dar es Salaam, Tanga, to name a few. I have only preached in Mwanza and a few small villages. I have
a feeling, that might just change in 2016.
My “luxury” hotel is nestled in a simple Tanzanian community (see photo first page). There is no
A/C, so I am a part of neighborhood life on this Saturday afternoon. The sounds, smells and
Thunder rolls across the Serengeti and I can smell rain. Mmmmmmm....maybe a nap as I listen to
the syncopation of drops on the neighbors tin roofs. I am going to pretend to study before the my
raindrop nap comes.
Sunday, February 1, 2015--Goldland
Hotel, Tarime-Mara, Tanzania
2:00 A.M.
The music, laughter and talking finally begins a
decrescendo from the drunkards in the bar below my
third floor room. All of my windows are open to
ventilate and cool the room. I might
as well be sitting at the bar with
them. There has been little sleep.
God is soooo smart. I seldom
take naps. I took a good two hour
nap yesterday afternoon. I suppose
He might have known what Saturday night in this
town was to be like?
4:oo A.M.
I have faded in and out of sleep for a couple of hours
now between the barking of the dogs in the town
outside my window. Many keep a dog as a guard but
the dog is not fed or cared for. So, they stay in a foul
mood and are easily agitated.
Suddenly, from about a block away someone begins to
bang on metal with a hammer very rhythmically. It’s
not accidental. He’s trying to wake someone.
Well...he succeeded!
With the breaking of dawn comes the honking of the
horns on the matatus (taxi-vans). I click on the lights
and reach for my Bible....just then, the power grid
goes out and so do the lights.
Not all Saturday nights are as tough as this one. But,
they are always a challenge when in a hotel. Think the
enemy knows that Saturday night comes right before
Sunday morning worship?
Anxious to see what God says and does today. He
must have something significant planned. The enemy
sure thinks so to go to so much trouble to disturb and
annoy one American preacher. No power = cold
shower. But....there is a shower!
Sunday, February 1, 2015--Chenguere, Tanzania
10:30 A.M.
Worship with Pastor Patroba is a glimpse of heaven.
13 pastors from all over Tanzania have joined us for this day. I have never met these men,
nor heard about their work but today we shall remedy that.
Introductions are very important in Africa. To have a guest in your midst and
not properly introduce them would be unthinkable. As the introductions
continue Pastor Patroba tells us how long each pastor’s journey has been. Some
have been two days on public transport! There is no way to describe the agony of
public transport in Africa. Sardine can is the illustration that comes to mind.
The Holy Spirit gently asks me, “now, you were complaining about what in your luxury hotel room last
night?” I’m a heel. It’s just that simple.
Tanzanians are twice the musicians and worshippers that Kenyans are. That is saying a lot!! The small
room is filled with passionate, wonderfully harmonized singing. The children’s POI(Point of
Impact)choir takes us to the next level with their singing and dancing. (These are the children from
the school and feeding station that meets here and is sponsored by our American partners POI).
And then, to lead us in worship just before I preach, the widows of the church come forward. I am
expecting long faces and sad songs. No way! A hallejuah hoe-down is the only way I can describe
the singing, dancing, clapping and totally uninhibited worship of these women.
Preaching in Africa is always a treat for me. No time restraints. Bibles and notebooks open. Eyes
fixed on me as they await each translation. This morning is extra special with the addition of the
pastors in the room. Let me just say, they are interactive learners.
3:22--Patroba’s home
As I pull into the family compound where Patroba’s
home is, the scene looks like an African block party.
women are scattered under every shade tree busily
preparing their best dishes. Young girls are scurrying
back and forth with supplies and utensils
for the cooks. The kids.well,
they are being kids running,
playing and laughing as they
weave in and out of the outdoor
cooking maze. And us men? Well,
we are sitting in the living rom in the easy chairs
waiting on lunch to be served, of course!
Feast and Fellowship
The tables are packed with every African favorite.
Eating is not for the faint of heart in Africa. Helpings
are spilling over the sides of plates. And the
conversation among the pastors is only halted briefly
for another mouth full of ugali (local favorite).
The plan
After lunch I spend a couple of hours with the
pastors. I lay out our vision of disciple-making verses
the traditional African “worship-tainment” and
spectator Christianity. For decades the pastors and
leaders have done all of the work of the church. The
result has been a lot of thunder and very little
lightening. The turnover rate in a traditional African
church would challenge any American Baptist churchsplit driven exodus.
We talk of accountability. Something grossly absent
among many African leaders. We discuss many other
“essentials” of partnership with our ministry.
What I have said is obviously sobering to these
men. Change does not come easy for any of us.
Finally, the pastor Dar es Salaam speaks; “Pastor MIke,
this is what I have been praying for. I knew there was a
different and better way for us to lead. But no one has come
to help us.
“We&,” I say. “Here I am. I cannot offer you money. Our budget is tota&y taken by the existing work. Until God
sends us new and expanded partners, I cannot support more feeding stations, schools and church plants. But, I can
come and train you in what the Lord has shown me.”
The room erupts into applause as each pastor shouts the name of their ministry
city and motions with their hands for me to come.
To be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of ministry consolidation, not
Many of the cities and towns where these men minister are background for evening news reports of
radical muslim terror training camps and attacks.
And then I smile.....what an adventure to end this amazing ministry ride on!”
So, watch for Tanzania on the schedule in late ’15 or early ’16.
5:35 P.M.
On the ride back to town and our hotel, cell service reappears on my phone. Among the emails is
one from a young supporter and former Kenyan team member. She has started a business and has
just read the February prayer letter where I ask for help with the $1,200 needed to pay Pastor
Daniel’s annual church rent.
She says, it is time for her to enter the ranks of missional entrepreneurs. The term I have invented for
businesses who see their profits as funding for world-wide ministry.
She just sen the $1,200 through our website on-line giving. I hand my phone to Daniel and smile as
I hear from the back seat...Praise God! Praise....God! Praise Him.....INDEED!